When she realized that some elderly people have difficulty using touch screen devices, Ani Abgaryan set out to find a solution. The final product is Confage, an educational game that helps seniors help to gain confidence using the growing number of touch screen devices.

Abgaryan, a graduate student studying design at SF State, was named a finalist for the Stanford Center on Longevity Design Award this year for the game. Confage is on display this week along with nearly 300 other projects at the design and industry department’s annual showcase.

For one week every May, Jack Adams Hall is transformed into an extensive design showcase including work from the last year. Although it sounds simple, a lot of work goes into the showcase. An entire 15-week class is designed around imagining, organizing and building the show.

The opening reception on Wednesday night brought together students, alumni and teachers from the department to look at work, while enjoying food and wine, and filling the hall with a hum of conversation.

The projects in the showcase range from easy-to-use eyedroppers, a guitar made of laminated recycled skateboards and a hydroponic food system.

The design process, which involves discovering a problem, researching it, proposing a solution, testing the solution and then repeating the cycle until the product works, is central to the department’s curriculum.

“A lot of our students are surprised by the amount of research that is involved in design,” said Jane Veeder, the chair of the DAI department.

The department is heavily focused on inclusive design, a form of design that makes products as usable to the largest amount of people and range of abilities possible, without compromising the price of the product, according to The Design Council, an English charity that promotes design.

This year’s showcase is called LUX^e: 25 Years of Inspiration. Lux, a Latin word meaning light, is the central theme of the show this year, while ^e refers to an exponential power.

Design and Industry 524: Information Design 2, the class that creates the showcase, is split into three teams; graphics, structures and logistics. The students start with a concept – this year’s was illumination – and design the showcase around it. It is meant to be an experience in working in team to create a product.

“When they walk in on day one they have no idea what they are getting themselves into,” said Paul Nowicki, the professor who has taught DAI 524 for the last six years.

“The showcase had be built around the name,” Reese Kreutzberg said, “We had to think about what LUX^e would look like.”

The projects come from any class in the department, but Nowicki says that the skills design classes teach are helpful to students from any major. Students from many different majors can submit work if they have taken design classes.

While the event was once specifically for graduating students, the organizers opened the space up to all design projects.

“We invited alumni, freshman and sophomores,” said Veeder. “It’s a way of sharing our work.”

For some, the showcase is their last college experience and an introduction into the working world. Many design students go on to jobs and internships in the Bay Area after graduation according to Veeder.

“Based on informal sources, we have alumni working at a long and impressive list of companies,” Veeder said. “…I am especially delighted that so many of our students’ internships and post-graduation jobs are at the many start-up companies now in the city in addition to larger, more established firms.”

In 2011, the department became impacted because of an increased interest in design over the past decade, and fewer full-time faculty members “for various reasons, including resignations,” according to Veeder.

“Design, as a field, is increasingly highlighted in every part of our culture and economy, so there is no shortage of interested students,” said Veeder, adding that she would like to some of the currently missing faculty replaced in the future.

 

See the full tech collection on Medium at: https://medium.com/a-byte-of-the-valley

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Will Carruthers

Will Carruthers